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Show Me Your Shelves: Mark Rapacz

by Gabino Iglesias 

I met Mark Rapacz the same way I’ve met a bunch of cool people: he had a book out there I wanted to review. City Kaiju turned out to be a lot of fun and I was wondering what else Mark could be cooking. A few months later, the mailman brought me an answer to that, and it was something so cool it made me ask Mark to show me his shelves. Get ready for some books and some toilets.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

Whoa. Who am I?

Nearly three years ago I moved to California and for anybody new to the state they give you this really weird gift basket. In it is a bottle of Napa wine, a hunk of cheese that isn’t as good as Wisconsin’s (hard for a Minnesotan to admit), and a therapist.

So, my therapist and I have been working on this question, “Who am I?” for over a year. Outside the context of self-affirmations, positive thinking, and quasi-spiritual advice that has me twisting my leg over my head and straining my groin (it cures anxiety!), I’m a writer, editor and designer.

Depending on my mood and time of the year, I spend more time working in one of these creative modes than others, and it’s impossible to do them all at the same time. When you try to do all three, you just end up spending more time with the Gift Basket Therapist, doing more stretches and breathing exercises, and obsessing about resource inequality issues in the Bay Area, which Gene never thinks is on point because it’s not specifically about my issues.

What I’m saying is that books are sort of like yoga, only easier on your ass muscles.

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Tell me who your favorite kaiju is, and then what book you would give him or her as a birthday gift.

My favorite kaiju is Gamera because he’s a giant tortoise and can fly by pulling his arms, legs, head, and tail into his shell and shooting jets of flames out his arm/leg holes, which makes him dart around like a flying saucer. He can also fly like a rocket—depending, you know, on the circumstance.

I like the symbolism behind Gamera and turtles and tortoises in general—that of a protector of some kind. Sometimes they protect nature, sometimes humanity, sometimes they’re guardians by virtue of being creators of the universe. It depends on what folklore you’re looking at. Gamera actually has connections with the Black Tortoise, or guardian spirit of the north—of the winter season— which could also mean the protector of death.

Being from the cold wastelands of Minneapolis, I like that connection because it allows me to daily judge these weenies in California who think 65 degrees is cold. There’s also something about being from a place where death is a totally reasonable outcome if you get locked out of your apartment at the wrong time of year. This teaches you humility (in a mind-blowing awesome way).

I like the pace of turtles and their connection with peace and longevity—their depiction as beings who were here long before us and will be long after. It puts the human life span, and by extension our obsession with ourselves, in perspective.

I mean, I think writers are clinically self-deprecating, so turtles probably aren’t the healthiest choice of spirit animal—maybe, like, a penguin in a Hawaiian shirt might be better—but … I don’t know what I’m trying to say. The Kardashians should maybe get a pet box turtle and give it some dumb Hollywood name. It might make them come off as more human that way.

I’ve also always had an obsession with turtles and tortoises. I’ve been known to write about them (here and here). I have a huge ceramic turtle collection and have planned a number of vacations to the Galapagos that my wife and I cannot afford. Costa Rica has some service vacations where you can help sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean. Always wanted to do that, but have been reluctant because it might affect my reputation in the writing world as the consummate badassthatIam. Like, I can do over ten pull-ups, I own a BB gun,and I have read a number of David James Keaton’s Facebook posts about violent movies.

If Gamera flying-saucered to my apartment right now, I’d tell him to read the first and most amazing book of American kaiju fiction: Moby Dick.

Then I’d show him my small stack of City Kaijus (the kaiju book I wrote) and guilt him into finally writing that Amazon review he promised. Or, I’d ask him to just plasma blast every copy because that would probably be a better promotional tactic than the review.

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Your shelves look like mine, which is to say packed and groaning under the weight of too many books. Is there a method to your madness? What makes you buy a book? The cover of City Kaiju is awesome. Do you think covers sell books?

I usually just see what mastermind and pulp aficionado Craig T. McNeely is reading and buy whatever he tells me to. Or, I read your [Gabino Iglesias’] reviews. I’ve bought plenty that way. I follow Anthony Neil Smith and whenever he says he has a book coming out, I buy it. I do the same thing with Mike Miner’s books. Basically All Due Respect anything right now is a sure bet. Sometimes David Oppegaard goes insane at two in the morning and sends me a draft of one of his works-in-progess to proof. I really like that. Always love seeing a book before it officially comes out.

Covers by Matthew Revert, Dyer Wilk, and Eric Beetner sell books.

How would you describe Blastgun Books in 27 words?

Blastgun Books is releasing TA Wardrope’s book of sci fi kaplow, Arcadian Gates, on March 17. Pre-order now.

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What’s your latest book about (tell us about its history too!) and why should folks go get it immediately?

My latest book is called Les Toilettes d’ Alcatraz. It is an ultra-serious look at the depravity of federal incarceration through the lens of Instagram filters. It has writings about life and love, including poetry, essays, captions, and diatribes that will, more or less, save your soul the moment you crack its spine.

Actually, if you don’t buy this book of amazing photographs and musings, you will be complicit in your Eternal Existence on the Wheel of Want and Suffering, and you will never break free to become a Hermitbird of the Cosmos, flying into the heavens on a Rainbow Trail of Maniacal Bliss.

So, a billion years down the road when it’s just you and Gamera on some hunk of lava stone in a sea of fire somewhere out in the worst parts of the Multiverse and Gamera is about to plasma blast your soul nuts off for the duration of another ice age, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Don’t have your soul nuts blasted off by a turtle god. Buy this book now.

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Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at@Gabino_Iglesias

Flash Fiction Friday: The Ghouldigger’s Daughter

by Nicholaus Patnaude

Lorna clicked on the link in the anonymous email directing her to Juglicious.com and fought back the urge to vomit-Gerald had promised never to show the photos to anyone, unless their exposure would help give clues to the whereabouts of her missing daughter, Hannah.

Somebody answered on the third ring.

“Hello? Gerald?”

Heavy breathing on the other end.

“We want to film you this time,” a woman’s voice said. “Be at The Mikado in thirty minutes. Wear a winter coat with nothing on underneath.”

The line clicked off.

*

The Mikado was empty except for a bartender and a woman slumped over a bevy of manila folders.

The woman smirked, a gold fang-shaped tooth glinting as Lorna approached.

“The shoot’s for GangBangBeavers.com. If you fuck one thousand guys in ten days on camera and appear to like it, we will vanish from your life and return Hannah.”

Lorna picked up the pint glass and pushed it into the woman’s face, feeling a shard grind against her thumb as she cleft the woman’s nose.

As Lorna slammed the woman’s head onto the glass bits and spilled beer, she heard the shutter of a camera open and close.

The bartender lowered the camera and pressed a button behind one of the booths. A projector screen unrolled. A naked man, chiseled and tan, lounged on a bearskin rug beside a fire with a glass of cognac precariously held in his tightly-bound hands.

‘I Want You Back’ by The Jackson 5 played on a turntable.

A cattle prod burst into the frame, zapping the man’s gargantuan member.

“Say it,” a garbled female voice said from off-screen.

“Help me,” the man said. “And help Hannah. Just do what they say. You don’t want to see what they’ve done to Hannah, I—” the man said before another zap from the cattle prod made his jaw clench and sent him writhing in a seizure.

After the transmission ended, the bartender led Lorna to his silver Jaguar, a shotgun pressed into her lower back.

Lung Woman, New York City’s greatest ally in fighting crime, swung from a strand of flesh and drop-kicked the bartender.

Lung Woman’s head exploded from a shotgun blast.

Up close, Lorna could see through the bartender’s nylon.

Gerald.

“I always loved you, Gerald. Even when you dressed as a woman,” Lorna said, easing up the nylon.

“Don’t touch me,” Gerald said, cracking Lorna’s jaw with the back of his jeweled-ringed hand.

Gerald’s phone rang.

“They want to talk to you.”

“You’re gonna get gang-banged tonight. If Henrietta is turned on by your performance, we’ll return Hannah,” the same garbled woman’s voice said.

“Any questions?” Gerald asked, pulling the nylon over his lipstick and eye-shadow, raising the shotgun.

But Lung Woman had survived, her exploded face making her resemble The Wasp Woman.

“Stop. Both of you. Just put me in the trunk,” Lorna said.

“Like we did last time?” The Wasp Woman said.

*

Lorna heard the keys jingle outside the trunk. Gerald and The Wasp Woman escorted her to an ivory high rise with unruly vegetation sprouting from the roof and windows of the penthouse apartment. It was beside the white oaks, rats skittering over bedrock, and the pond of NYC’s Central Park.

The doorman licked his lips and faux-pouted at Lorna.

The apartment was dim and her flats kept sticking to the mahogany floor. A shadowy figure sat in the corner veiled by a mosquito net listening to a Marlene Dietrich record on an antique turntable with muscular men whipping wooly mammoths lugging pianos carved into the nickel-plated wooden base. On the inside of its brass horn, paintings of reddened blue and green eyes glared.

Rosewood furniture legs crackled and a plume of green and purplish smoke rose from a cushion in a fireplace with a cast-iron mantelpiece, elephant bird skeleton and shark fin shapes carved into the metal.

An August breeze lifted the lace curtains of the bay window overlooking the stone bridge and wood ducks on the Central Park Lake.

The bronze muscular man from the transmission crawled down through the chimney, goat legs having replaced his arms. Flames licked his oily body, smelling of blackened hot dogs, as he scratched behind his ear with a goat hoof on the bearskin rug.

The figure under the mosquito netting lit a cigarette with a silver Zippo.

“Strip,” the woman said in a husky voice.

“Where’s Hannah?”

“Don’t worry. She won’t see any of this.”

The bronze-skinned hunk with goat legs set up a video camera on a tripod as Lorna unbuttoned her winter coat, which had caused an itchy sweat to accumulate in her unshaved armpits.

Gerald and The Wasp Woman returned, carrying a roasted Elephant-headed man tied by rope to an iron pole.

As instructed, Lorna wore nothing beneath her winter coat.

Beads of sweat rolled down her sides as she trembled and her breath quickened.

Gerald, wearing high-heels and a cocktail dress, batted his heavy green eyelashes and motioned Lorna towards the flames of the fire as The Wasp Woman removed her spandex jumpsuit with the neon yellow lungs printed over the rib portion.

As they pushed Lorna into the flames, her sense of balance and gravity ruptured while she held onto the hot iron sides of the fireplace as if about to fall down a well.

Lorna looked down and saw the balsa wood crawlspace door from her parent’s bedroom with the charcoal spider she’d drawn as a child. It swung open. Lorna saw her father stroking himself in front of three separate screens of heavily mascaraed women’s faces: half-smiling, drugged, and rocking gently forward and backward with their bodies painted sparkling silver and sparkling gold.

It was her father’s blue face, like the time she’d caught him doing that but with an elephant’s trunk for a nose and a pair of tusks on his cheeks, which kept drooping downward as they had been jammed into putty instead of an organic part of his bone structure.

Lana looked away as he yelped and ejaculated, only to see a mass of undulating flesh on the bearskin rug in front of the fireplace to which she clung. Her fingertips sizzled. Claws grabbed Lorna’s forearms and swung her up into the moist pink and slick bronze mix as pleasure gutted her sense of reason, poise, and inhibition, filling each relaxing and accommodating orifice with throbbing meat and curling tongues.

Henrietta left her mosquito net, gently massaging her ginger-haired vulva and clitoris, using a five-horned feathered object with an angry clay Native American man’s face surrounded by red and white beads in its center.

When Henrietta moaned, as if sliced by a butcher knife from nipple to nipple, everyone climaxed. They all slept for a time.

*

Lorna’s knees ached and her sex felt raw from the aggressive acts she had performed on camera.

Hannah slept soundly in the backseat.

Lorna gripped the steering wheel, the urges lessening.

The ghost of Lorna’s father sat in the passenger seat.

“Will you make me a promise?” he said.

“Sure.”

He looked at her with sad blue eyes.

“Forgive me

———-

Nicholaus Patnaude grew up in haunted, rural Connecticut. After completing his degree at Bard College, he worked in a variety of mental institutions and halfway houses. An excerpt from his illustrated novel, First Aide Medicine, was published in The Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review November, 2010 issue. First Aide Medicine, which won the 2010 International Emergency Press contest, was published on June 4th, 2013. He currently lives and works as a teacher in La Paz, Bolivia. He can be found blogging about underground writers, psychedelic music, and cult cinema at nicholauspatnaude.com or on twitter at @poemcultureblog.

Show Me Your Shelves: Brian Alan Ellis

Say what you like about Facebook, but it’s a great place to meet awesome people. One day a book popped up on my feed. The title caught my eye: The Mustache He’s Always Wanted but Could Never Grow. It was written by a guy named Brian Alan Ellis. I reached out. He sent me a digital copy. I read it. It was funny and sad and a bit noir and somewhat bizarro and a hell of a lot of fun. Most importantly, it made me go “Who the fuck is this guy?” Anyway, I reviewed that book for Electric Literature and then stayed in touch with Brian. We haven’t shared a drink/night in jail combo yet, but we became friends because wrestling and books and humor and gnomes (especially Gnome Chomsky). Then he asked me to blurb his next book, and I did. Better yet, I asked him to show me his stuff. He did. Then he also showed me his books. And his bathtub. Anyway, here’s what he had to say and major props to the wonderful Christia Nunnery for the photos.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

My name is Brian Alan Ellis, not to be confused with Bret Easton Ellis, Brian Allen Carr, or Karen Allen ofRaiders of the Lost Ark-fame. Books are kind of my thing. I buy them, borrow them, give them away, smell them, chew on them, bathe with them, write them, publish them, etc. etc. I’ll even read them, from time to time.
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There’s a place where wrestling and literature meet. Tell us about that awesome place.

They meet on the corner of Know Your Role Boulevard and Jabroni Drive.

You seem to favor short stories over long novels. Do you hate Russians?

Actually, in my twenties, I read the shit out of Russians. I read all those motherfuckers: Gogol, Dostoevsky,Yuri Olesha, Mikhail Bulgakov, etc. etc. Chekov is my dawg, though. He’s def. one of my main short-story influences, so blame him. As far as novels go, I definitely own more short-story collections. The novels I’ve enjoyed are definitely few and far between. Nothing matches the power or beauty of a killer short story. I’ve gotten more out of reading a 500-word Lydia Davis story about socks than I have from many of those so-called “Great American Novels,” which are generally stuffy and longwinded.

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So what’s the longest novel you own?

The longest novel I’ve ever read was probably Something Happened by Joseph Heller (or maybe a couple of Céline books, I don’t know). Big fan of it. Would you believe that this is the only Heller novel I’ve ever read? I’ve never even finished Catch-22. It wasn’t dark or funny enough. Something Happened is the funniest, darkest book I’ve ever read. It kills all that spooky Stephen King-Halloween-monster shit. See also: The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr.  Also, also: The fattest book I own is probably The Essential Ellisonby Harlan Ellison; the tallest, Henry Rollins’s Get in the Van; the thinnest, Bring Me Your Love by Charles Bukowski (illustrated by Robert Crumb).

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What’s the title of your newest book and why should folks stop reading and go buy it right now?

Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty is my latest story collection. It’s so wild I had to give it three titles. Also, it comes recommended by you, Gabino. And everyone knows that your word is law, boss.

[Note: No books were seriously harmed in the making of this article.]

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Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias

Flash Fiction Friday: They Don’t Serve Ice Cream in Hell

by John Wayne Comunale

“Your suffering will be legendary . . . if you eat this and happen to be lactose intolerant.”

The child, not more than four years old, stared up blank-faced at the former Cenobite as he added the third and final scoop of fudge-ripple to a large waffle cone the young boy was clutching tightly with both of his tiny hands. The boy wasn’t scared of the black-eyed, prickly-faced demon, or what he had to say to him. He just wanted to eat as much of the tower of ice cream that teetered in his hands before dropping it, which he eventually did after taking only two steps out the door.

“Pinhead!”

The voice of Mr. O’Rodenberry seemed to come from out of nowhere, and startled him. It made Pinhead remember a fonder time in the not so distant past when it was impossible for him to be startled.

“My office now,” came the voice again from the tiny intercom speaker built into the wall behind him.

“Yes sir,” he sighed placing the ice cream scoop back in its designated, stainless steel holster.

He kept his head down as he walked to the office so he wouldn’t accidentally catch the reflection of himself in the door’s small window. The one thing he hated more than having to wear a pink and purple striped apron, and a stupid paper hat, was actually having to look at himself wearing a pink and purple striped apron with a stupid paper hat. Pinhead heaved another heavy sigh, knocked lightly on Mr. O’Rodenberry’s door, and entered a moment later. Nary a day had gone by since Pinhead started working at O’Rodenberry’s Sweet Frozen Creams that he wasn’t called back to the office for one thing or another. Gone were the days of gluttonously feeding upon the suffering of others as the terror-inducing leader of the Cenobites. Now he filled his time by scooping ice cream, and cleaning the gutters at his mom’s house.

“Get in here and sit the hell down now!”

Mr. O’Rodenberry spit the words at Pinhead through a thick, gruff Southern accent. His voice was rougher than two-day stubble on the chin of a hooker with a pituitary problem. Pinhead kept his head down, removed his hat, and sat in the chair in front of Mr. O’Rodenberry’s desk.

“Jeeeezus fucking Christ, Pinhead,” said Mr. O’Rodenberry. His drawl was so pronounced it seemed like it took him ten minutes just to spit out those four words. “Why does it seem like we have to have this conversation every single day? Now, quite frankly I gotta’ tell you that I am sick and tired of talking about it.”

“Yes sir, I understand . . . “

“You say that,” said Mr. O’Rodenberry cutting of the old demon off, “but I don’t think you do understand. If you understood, then we wouldn’t have to have this conversation everyday, and we certainly wouldn’t be having this conversation now!”

“Mr. O’Rodenberry,” said Pinhead. His voice still held some of the deep timbre of older times, but it no longer struck terror into those he directed it toward. “I am truly sorry, and I can assure you it will not happen again.”

“Well, excuse me all to hell if I have a hard time believing you, because you assured me yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.”

“Mr. O’Rodenberry . . .”

“Don’t Mr. O’Rodneberry me! Now listen son, you are not a big, scary demon who feeds upon the ultimate suffering of others anymore. You work for me now scooping ice cream at this fine, family friendly ice-creamery. Now, stop talking all that Cenobite, Hellraiser shit to my good payin’ customers, and just scoop the goddamn ice cream. I swear boy, if you’re mother didn’t practically beg me to give you this job I’d have fired your prickly-faced ass a hundred times over. Now, get back out there, and get to scoopin’! So help me if I hear one more word about legendary suffering, or tears, or Jesus weeping, then so help me I’ll give him and you something to cry about!”

Pinhead nodded in reply, placed the paper hat back on his spikey head, and slunk out of the office silently save for the jingle-jangle of the many hooks and chains that dangled from his chest. It was going on six months since he had been unceremoniously fired from the Cenobites, but it felt like it was just yesterday. Everything had been going so well in his life up till then .

It happened so long ago that he didn’t know why it even mattered anymore, especially when you consider all the suffering and pain he had caused throughout his career. He was legendary in . . . well, he was legendary, especially in hell. He didn’t just go around using that phrase willy-nilly. He and his partners, Cecilia and Mark, were out on one of their first cases and were all equally eager to show what they could do, but before they closed the deal things got out of hand. They toyed with their victims for just a bit too long allowing time for one of them to escape. Her name was Kristy, the stupid bitch.

The three figured that if they quickly moved on to another case, and then on to another, and then another, then their failure would slip between the cracks to be lost in the mix, and that was exactly what happened. This is why when Pinhead was called to appear that day before the Grand Council years later he was certain it was to receive a promotion. He had gotten up early and polished his pins until they glinted bright in the light of the hellfire. He’d put on his best hooks and chains, and had his favorite leather torture dress wiped down and treated to bring back it’s original shine and luster. You can imagine the shock when he arrived to find he was on trial.

It happened fast. Faster than Pinhead could react. Faster than he could even begin to try and plead his case. The Council’s harsh judgment left him no longer a bringer of sorrow and pain and ultimate suffering. Now he had been reduced to an odd looking, leather dress-wearing, powerless weirdo with a bad complexion. He lost everything and was forced to move back in with his mother in New Jersey, and work for her secret lover, Mr. O’Rodenberry, in his ice cream shop.

Pinhead passed through the stainless steel swinging door to retake his post behind the counter. He gripped the handle of the scoop while staring off through the front window. His coal-black, pupil-less eyes looked upon a fiery landscape of burning bodies and tortured souls of his fantasy. He saw singed flesh flap in the hot, dry breeze of a paradise he could no longer visit. He saw his former home and his heart, which was once filled with an unquenchable thirst for the pain he stole from others, was now filled heavy with his own sorrow.

Pinhead’s daydream was interrupted when a face materialized through his vision of black and burning sadness. It was the last face on Earth he wanted to see . . . on Earth. It was the face that had been the ultimate source for all of his present problems. It was the face of Kristy. The one who got away. She had walked into the ice cream shop and stood in front of the counter staring at him with a sarcastically cocked eyebrow, and half-sneer.

“Um, like hello?” Kristy waved her hand in front of Pinhead’s face trying to snap him out of his daze. “Are you like awake, or whatever? I totally want some ice cream.”

He couldn’t believe it. There, standing not three feet in front of him was the one miserable, living, sack of organs that had ever escaped from his grasp. The current cause of all the pain and misery his life had become, and the reason he could no longer garner satisfaction from those feelings.

“It’s you,” he said still trying to make sense of the current cosmic twist he was experiencing.

“Like, yeah it’s me,” said the obviously oblivious girl. “Who else would it be? Do I like know you or something?”

“Know me? Do you not remember my child? The suffering?”

“The Suffering? Is that like some kind of band you play in, or something? I guess you do look kind-of familiar. Did you guys open for The Torture Barons last month? I was like so wasted at that show, but I think I remember you guys being good. So, is this like your day job, or something?”

Before he could answer Pinhead turned slightly to see Mr. O’Rodenberry standing there; arms crossed and glaring death rays.

“What was that you were saying, Pinhead?” Came the drawl of Mr. O’Rodenberry’s gravely, and heavily accent-affected voice. “Was that something about suffering I heard?”

Pinhead swallowed hard and managed a smile, as he turned around halfway to acknowledge his boss.

“Why, not at all sir,” he said flatly. “We were merely discussing a performance put on by a local musical troupe, for which this young lady has mistaken me for a member of.”

“Is that a fact?”

“Yes sir, it is,” said Pinhead turning back toward Kristy. “I am sorry ma’am, but I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else. It happens more often than you’d think. I just have one of those faces, I suppose.”

“Yeah okay, whatever,” Kristy said rolling her eyes. “Like I care who you are anyway. Can I like get some ice cream, or are we gonna’ play celebrity look alike all day?”

The sheer insolence of her tone and the arrogance of her actions made it hard to resist the urge for Pinhead to gouge his hooks into her face and pull her eyeballs out.

“Pinhead?” Asked Mr. O’Rodenberry, “you gonna’ help out this nice young lady, or do I need to find someone else who can?”

“Yes, of course sir,” said Pinhead impressed by his ability to make himself sound calm. “I will take care of her posthaste. No need to seek help from elsewhere. What can I get for you, ma’am?”

“Like, finally. Sheesh.”

The squishy fleshling pressed her hands and face up against the glass of the refrigerated counter to get a better look at the flavors. Her greasy nose and filthy digits left smudges and smears across the otherwise spotless glass that Pinhead would have to clean later.

“Might I recommend our organic butterscotch cream made fresh and in house? It really is quite delicious.”

“Butter-what? That sounds stupid. You know, all of this looks really gross. I don’t want any of this stuff.”

“Don’t blow another sale, Pinhead,” whispered Mr. O’Rodenberry into an ear that had heard thousands of death-rattle shrieks.

“Perhaps a nice strawberry cone would be more suited to the tastes of a young lady like yourself?” continued Pinhead. “Or, we have a new . . .”

“Like, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I’m sorry ma’am?”

“Did you just, like, ask me to taste your strawberry cone, or something? Are you like trying to be some kind of sexual pervert with me or something? What the eff?”

The urge to shoot spiked chains from his chest into her body and tear her to shreds was almost unbearable. Not that he could do it even if he wanted to since all of his enchantments had been taken away when he lost his Cenobite status.

“Ma’am, I assure you that I in no way was trying to offend you. I merely wanted to . . .”

“Wanted to stick your prickly, limp dick in my mouth, is, like, that what you wanted to do?”

Pinhead remained stoic and unaffected by her accusations.

“No.”

“Whatever. I am like totally out of here. I bet your ice cream tastes like a horse’s cock anyway.”

With that she spun around on her heel, let out a haughty humph, and headed for the door. Mr. O’Rodenberry’s lips were almost touching Pinhead’s ear now.

“Pinhead,” he spat down his ear canal, “if she leaves here without buying something, so help me . . .”

“Kristy,” blurted Pinhead just as she had taken one step out the door. She turned around with her head cocked to the side in confusion.

“Like, how do you know my name, creeper?”

Their eyes locked and for a moment it seemed as if everything in the ice cream shop, and the city, and even the whole world had slowed to revolve around this heated stare down. Pinhead opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out as the pain of the memory of a life he could never get back took its final toll in that moment.

“Well? Like, answer me, you perv.”

Pinhead turned from Kristy, to Mr. O’Rodenberry, back to Kristy, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Jesus wept?”

________

John Wayne lives in Houston Texas where he wiles away the days writing ridiculous stories, and slinging lattes for a bunch of jerks. When he’s not doing that he’s touring with his bands: johnwayneisdead and Letters to Voltron. He also writes and illustrates his own zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.

Show Me Your Shelves: Constance Ann Fitzgerald

Constance Ann Fitzgerald is the author of Trashland a Go-Go and editor of this site you’re reading. However, the coolest thing she has going right now, besides her hair, some new glasses, and the fact that she just moved to Portland to take care of business, is that she’s head honcho of Ladybox Books, which is gonna kick all the asses in 2015. With so much going on, I asked Constance to talk books and show me what she’d be dragging north in some boxes. Dig it.

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Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I’m Constance Ann Fitzgerald and books have always been very important to me. Like a lot of avid readers, I grew up as “the weird kid.” We moved around a lot and I was left alone at home fairly often. Books were a great way for me to escape and explore. As I grew into being a “writer” books took on a whole new meaning. They became a thing that I could create and a way to share my thoughts and general head noise with others. Since entering the publishing world they have become the nucleus of my little world.

Folks already know about Ladybox Books, so tell us about the future. What’s coming in 2015? Who would you love to receive a sub from?

2015 is going to be great! We’re kicking things off with MARCH MADNESS, the release of books from Ladybox Books, King Shot Press, and Broken River Books. Ladybox Books will be releasing it’s first two titles: Jigsaw Youth by Tiffany Scandal and The Pulse Between Dimensions and the Desert by Rios de la Luz. A submission I would love to receive would be from any strong voiced person identifying as female with a story to tell. If I have to be specific I would definitely say it would be from Juliet Escoria. Black Cloud was absolutely incredible and every time I read something else from her I’m completely blown away. Her voice is exactly the sort of thing we’re looking for.

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How did you acquire editing skills? Does this mean you’re done writing? A bird told me you’re migrating north, what’s up with that?

I’d have to say my editing skills are still being honed. Having an editor of my own definitely helped me see where things need correction.
That little bird would be correct! As of February first I will be joining the residents of Portland, Oregon, to become part of the Broken River book factory! I’m never done writing, because I can’t really stop myself. It isn’t always worth putting out there. But I plan to work some shit out and put out another book as soon as humanly possible.

Pick five titles from your shelves and tell me why I should read them. Then tell me what food would go well with them.

Meaty by Samantha Irby, it’s brutally honest and hilarious. If you don’t believe me check out her blog bitchesgottaeat.com and see for yourself. Food: something salty, like Samantha herself.

The No Hellos Diet by Sam Pink because Sam fucking Pink. Food: your own self loathing.

Role Models by John Waters because it’s interesting to see how the mind of a mad genius was formed. Food: eggs.

– I Date A Hooker by Jeff Fischer. It’s a teeny little pocket book, but it packs a punch. All about a man who takes prostitutes on actual dates and appreciates and respects them as humans. Food: anything from a food truck.

Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island by Cameron Pierce. While on the surface it may seem silly, it’s an absolutely beautiful read. Food: Pancakes. Or pickles. But probably pancakes. Because pancakes.

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You’ve edited all my Show Me Your Shelves. How does it feel to be in here? Do you have a favorite one? Where did you get those awesome glasses?

It’s fun! My favorite so far was definitely Cody Goodfellow’s. That dude’s collection puts mine to shame. Where do I get my glasses? Internet. They are significantly smaller than my original pair, but I’ll make due.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias

Flash Fiction Friday: A Phone Call from Ionesco

by G. Arthur Brown

ACT I

(An average family American 1960 sits at an average family table for an average dinner. Eugene Ionesco is not among them. FATHER sits at one side of the table dressed like an American father 1960. MOTHER sits at another side of the table dressed like an American mother 1960. GIRL sits at another side of the table dressed like an American daughter 1960. DOCTOR sits another side of the table dressed like an American American doctor 1960. Thomas, dressed like an average American son 1960, sits in his dorm room one thousand miles away. They chat before eating.)

Girl: Doctor, I am led to believe—

Doctor: How are you led, my dear, by rope?

Girl: By road signs, sir. They tell me, the road signs, that you are working on a technique to separate mother from prenatal child.

Doctor: Well, it is quite difficult, you know, to separate the best mothers from the best children because they never even meet. Sometimes living thousands of miles apart. At this point I’m devising a maneuver to prevent any mother from ever coming in to contact with a child, hers or otherwise.

Father: Quite remarkable!

Mother: Then why not remark?

Father: I’m afraid I’ve no ink.

Girl: Won’t it be brilliant to have babies one never even has to see!

Father: That reminds me. I had a telephone call today from Eugene Ionesco.

Doctor: Indeed, and what did he say?

Father: I’m really not quite sure.

Mother: Oh, darling, but you speak French quite well.

Father: Yes, I speak French, but I cannot hear it. So to me it was just as a dead line… nothing at all.

Doctor: What a thing! What a sad loss.

Father: Oh, I don’t know about that. Now I am aware that all these years when I thought the line was dead, no one there, it was really Eugene Ionesco calling with his words of encouragement, or derision, or indifference. One of the three, I suspect.

Doctor: And you can’t tell us anything about what he had to say?

Father: He was wearing a derby hat.

Doctor: Why do you suppose that?

Father: You just now asked me to.

Mother: His favorite fish is herring.

Girl: Eugene Ionesco’s favorite fish is herring!

Mother: No, your older brother Thomas’ favorite fish is herring. I didn’t realize we were still talking about Eugene Ionesco.

(Offstage a phone rings.)

ACT II

(The family sits in the sitting room. Each member sits on a different stick of furniture. MOTHER sits on a tall bar stool. FATHER sits on a short step stool. DAUGHTER sits on a tuffet. DOCTOR sits on a surgical table with elaborate ivory inlay.)

Doctor: (To Daughter) I’m going to have to hit you in the face. Don’t blame me. Blame my methods and the men who invented them.

Daughter: Oh! Isn’t it so exciting to take part in medicine!

Doctor: (Approaches Daughter and punches her in the face, knocking her from her tuffet). I think we have once again proven the science always works.

Daughter: (Weeping) I’m glad I was subjected to that.

Father: What a reaction!

Mother: Equal and opposite. I saw it all, right there.

Doctor: (Writing something on clipboard) I was about to renounce the calling entirely.

Mother: What changed your mind?

Doctor: I couldn’t figure out how to get my lab coat off.

Father: Oh, yes! I had another telephone call from Eugene Ionesco today.

Daughter: (Rising, rubbing face, sitting back on tuffet) If you can’t hear his words, it can’t have been interesting.

Father: I wrote it all down. (Rummages in pockets for note) Here it is. He said to me, “I know you think I am Eugene Ionesco. But I am not him. I am not even a man. I am your Aunt Bernice. We need to discuss your mother’s estate.”

Mother: Well, that sounds just like something Ionesco would say.

Doctor: Did he have an accent?

Father: You might as well ask, “If I hang it on a wall, is it art?”

Daughter: You put all my drawings on the door of the refrigerator.

Father: But our walls are full.

Mother: What else are we to do?

Father: There is just too much art to fit it all on our walls. I’ve had the hardest time getting the Sistine Chapel ceiling on our own meager ceiling.

Doctor: But if it is on the ceiling, is it art?

Daughter: (Considers question with finger over lips) It’s not on the wall.

Mother: Nor is it on the refrigerator. Oh, Husband, I’m scared!

Father: (Rises and embraces mother) Why does Ionesco put us through this, time after time? Hasn’t our faith been shaken sufficiently?

Doctor: Which reminds me. Mother, I’m going to have to hit you in face.

(Lights fade. Curtains)

ACT III

(Family stands around a circular table with a punch bowl at its center. If a punch bowl is unavailable, a punch fountain will do. DOCTOR has his stethoscope pressed to his abdomen. MOTHER wears a conical paper hat. FATHER eyes the telephone surreptitiously. SALLY holds her doll.)

Doctor: They are in there, my friends. My friends are in there.

Sally: In your intestines?

Doctor: I have a phantom womb where I am letting them stay for the weekend.

Mother: That’s peculiar.

Father: Are your friends phantoms as well?

Doctor: As well as what?

Father: As well as being your friends, are they phantoms?

Doctor: Shall I ask them?

Sally: (Writes a quick note on a paper tablet and tears it out, begins folding the paper) Swallow this. They can respond at their leisure.

Mother: I worry that this type of paper won’t taste so very good. Pepper it first and wash it down with punch.

Doctor: I have pepper in my pocket of course, but where might I acquire the punch?

Sally: (Grinning) I’ll take care of that part.

Doctor: Ah, thank you ever so much. (Peppers note. Places in mouth, chews, gags)

Sally: Here it comes! (Punches doctor in the mouth)

Doctor: Ah! (Falls backward)

Mother: Looks as though it has gone down.

Father: Did the punch work, Doctor?

Doctor: (Rises, rubbing his belly) Yes. But it went down the wrong way.

Father: So your enemies will be getting the message instead of your friends?

Doctor: Probably. I’ve been letting my enemies stay in my spleen.

Mother: (Changes subject) It’s getting late. It is almost no longer my birthday.

Sally: You shall have to call him, Father.

Father: (Dials phone) Eugene Ionesco? You are once again late for my wife’s birthday party. The punch is here. (Pauses) It’s in a bowl. (Pauses) It’s in a silver bowl, or possibly a fountain. You’ll have to ask the crew about that bit. (Pauses) You’ll be here later? What time? (Pauses) What do you mean I have the wrong number? (Hangs up)

Mother: It wasn’t him?

Father: No, it was him. But he refuses to attend any birthday parties where there are an incorrect number of candles on the birthday cake.

Mother: (Stammering in fright) I… I… I… c-can fix it! (Pulls packet of small mutli-colored candles from pocket, spilling the contents onto the floor)

Father: (Ominously) It’s too late. He knows.

(Terminado)

——-

G. Arthur Brown is a jerk who publishes his own work, but it’s his birthday, so please forgive him. The three acts of A Phone Call from Ionesco appear in his flash fiction collection I Like Turtles. He will spend the majority of 2015 as a 38-year-old. God help him.

Flash Fiction Friday: Titles Are Pointless

by Pedro Proença

There is a problem with language.

In itself, it’s just a way of communicating uselessness. What we are are mere specks of something on a big beach.

The beach is connected to a desert, and beyond that, we can’t even imagine.

Once I swallowed a car. It drove itself inside of me, its tires leaving marks on my stomach. People called those marks tumors and tried to zap me with laser beams. I fled.

Looking back, I think I should have been a dancer. I had the body for it, the skill, but I was too ashamed. My head was to small. Freakishly small. I looked like Brain, from the cartoon, the lab rat, in the episodes he used his robot human body, with the black suit, and kept his own head on top of it. He said he was transformed into a mouse by a freak accident involving a microwave oven and shaving cream, and sued for compensation.

Compensation never came.

I though that was brilliant when I’d first watched. I filled my mom’s microwave with shaving cream and turned it on, hoping to become a smart mouse. All it did was turn me into a stupid mouse, and cause World War III.

I read a book once, it was made of yogurt. The pages melted under my fingers, and the only word in it was dark.

Sometimes I try to remember what it’s like to be a human being, not just a mouse, a lab rat.
Yesterday, I was taken from my cage at the pet store. A little redheaded girl adopted me. She took me to a wishing well, petting me all the way there, her fingers running on my smooth fur, and she wished for me to be a real boy. I transformed back, naked, in her arms. She collapsed with my weight, and I fell on top of her. People passing through thought I was a rapist, and they lynched me.
It’s nice here on my tree, the wind caresses my naked body. It’s pleasant.

At the End of Time, the rope on my neck broke and I was free. Now I was a middle aged woman named Gladys.

My vagina was dry and caked with mud. I walked until my feet bled, and found the last remaining human city. I needed water, my vagina begged me for some. She talked, and told me her name was Scott.

I never thought my vagina would be a man, but so it goes.

In the last city, I came across men. Only men, no women. They saw my naked body and craved it. Even though I was sagging all around, my hair was flaky and falling and my vagina was as dry as their hearts, they craved me. They looked at me with lust filled eyes, and I sort of liked it.
Scott detached himself from me. He was a tall black man, with the biggest penis I had ever seen. He beat all the men to death, a savage display I wish I could now forget. He claimed me as his wife, and we lived on a cave for the next sixty years, feeding of small plants and some of the mutant animals that now roam this god forsaken planet.

When Scott died, our son took over the role of the provider. I was a dried up old crone by then, and he was barely out of puberty. His name was Dog.

Dog fed me small plants from our makeshift garden, and at nights, he held me tight to hold off the freezing cold. One day, he came back from his hunting and told me had found more people, more humans. Men and women. He had found a girl, and they mated under an oak tree. Now they were married, she was pregnant, and he had to leave me behind. There was no space for me in his new life.

So I spent two years alone in my cave, my only nourishment being insects that came near my grasp. Once they got smart enough not to come by my side, I died.

Heaven is a lot like that Saint Seya episode where Deathmask sends Shiryu to the Underworld, and it’s all chasms and cliffs and a line of naked Ocarina of Time zombies.

I was minding my own zombie self when Scott found me. He was still black with a huge dick, not a zombie. He said he hadn’t died, but that he was there on vacation. He took me in his arms, and ran. We escaped Heaven through a back door, with an Employees Only sign. On the other side, the Lizard god played with a Lego set, and didn’t even looked up when we brush past him, towards his cherry red Cadillac.

We rode his car through an unpaved dirt road and came across a little B&B. It’s was run by a gay couple called Marky and Mark.

I was still a zombie, but Scott made love to me nevertheless. Being my vagina, all he needed to do was to bend down and suck his own penis, and I would orgasm. He did that until he turned to dust, crumbling to the floor.

Our room was free. All Marky and Mark required was for us to watch them make love. It was boring, missionary style sex, but we needed to watch. When Scott died, they offered me a job as a cleaning zombie. I declined, seeing no point in living without a vagina.

I hopped on God’s caddy and drove until I found my old cave. The smart bugs had transformed the place, turned it into a University. Such pride I felt when I found my old food in lab coats, teaching their young ones all about Green’s Theorem and Differential Geometry.

I decided to let them live their academic life, and I hunted down my son.

I found him in a nice, Tudor-style house, in the suburbs of his city. I watched him sleep beside his wife, a beautiful orangutan. Poor Dog. I killed them both with a machete, and ate their kids’ brains while they slept.

All the houses on his street were occupied by orangutan families. I killed them all and smeared their blood on me.

In the last house I found a microwave oven. I took some shaving cream from the bathroom cupboard (there was a lot of it) and tried to turn myself into a lab rat again.

I succeeded, and this time I had all the intelligence of Brain. I knew the next step was world domination.

Crawling my way through more gutters and sewer lines I’d ever thought I could endure, I found the palace of the King of Humans. He was a bald man, with strong Greek features.
It was Kojak.

With my diminished size, it was easy to sneak behind him and stuff myself into his Greek, talented mouth. I found myself inside of him, and I ate his organs. There was a miniature version of his castle there, with a miniature Kojak acting as the King of Big Kojak. I ate him too, in one bite.
Clawing and chewing myself through his anus, I saw myself turning into Scott. I held my BBC in my hand, stroked it, and when it became erect, it fell on the floor, transforming itself. It was now Excalibur. I tried to pick it up, but it was too heavy. Sadly, I was not the chosen king.

I walked out the castle, the subjects staring me as I walked, a tall black man with no penis. I came across a bottomless cliff and flung myself in it.

As I fell, I saw words flying by me. Words like sin and bubblegum and magic marker. I arrived at the non-bottom, and saw a skeleton typing on a keyboard. He was writing a novel since he was still a non-skeleton, and asked me if I could read what he had so far, and maybe give him notes on it. I said sure, and read.

Before the skeleton was born, his father was a traveling salesman. He sold people wax miniatures of world leaders. Stalin, Hitler, FDR, Getúlio Vargas, Mussolini, you name a country, he had a president, chancellor or prime minister for it. He once knocked at my house, and my mom answered. She had just unpacked the microwave oven she had bought online. It took a week to get there, and she was excited about it. She saw the traveling salesman on her doorstep and invited him in. He showed her his figurines, and she bought some. Then she showed him her new microwave, and he was impressed indeed. Just don’t let any kids come near it with shaving cream, he said to her, and she nodded. They fucked on the couch, and nine months later I was born.

I read the skeleton’s excerpt and told him it lacked blood. It lacked fucking. It lacked illegal sexual acts. It lacked miniature golf and brown, cheap wallets. The skeleton punched through his computer, his bony hand breaking in the process. He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about, that dickless men had no clue about life, about what’s truly important.

——–

Pedro Proença is struggling to fend off the villagers in order to protect his creation in his dark, creepy castle. When trying not to die from the extreme heat, he writes and plays music. You can find him on www.facebook.com/punksterbass

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